Monthly Archives: July 2013

Airlight Energy and Italgen Harvest Sun in Moroccan Desert

Airlight Italcementi Ait Baha World Infrastructure News

Swiss power firm Airlight Energy have built a pioneering concentrated solar power (CSP) plant at the site of one of Italcementi’s cement plants in the Moroccan desert. Power generated from the sun is integrated into the cement plant’s existing heat-recovery systems, replacing a portion of the plant’s fossil power consumption with green resources.

The Ait Baha plant cost around £2.5b, covers an area the size of two football pitches and produces around 0.2 MW of power. Giuseppe de Beni, managing director of Italcementi’s energy subsidiary Italgen, has described it as a “crazy” project. De Beni said, “with €3b I could instead buy more or less three megawatts of wind [power]”.

The plant is however groundbreakingly sustainable due to its modular Fresnel collector system, low-pressure receiver technology and use of hot air in the heat-transfer process rather than thermal oil. The facility can also be used to dry raw materials.

The plant consists of an array of three solar collectors – each 16m high, 216m long and 1,700 tonnes in weight. Taking a day to install, rather than the three months required for conventional photovoltaic mirrors, the collectors use super-efficient ‘Inflatech’ aluminised polyester foils instead of rigid mirrors. Tracing the sun’s path across the sky in the daytime, the collectors store excess energy in gravel pits during the night – an innovation De Beni describes as a “competitive advantage”.

Size is also central to the site’s innovation. Far larger than normal 9.5 metre mirrors enable extremely high concentration when compared to existing CSP systems. The mirrors’ teflon surface also discourages the sticking of dirt and dust to its surface, maximising efficiency. A controlled atmosphere housing complete with fiberglass membranes further protects the reflectors from dust and humidity.

In an interview with CSPToday, Airlight’s chief technology officer Andrea Pedretti said: “The air pipe is at low pressure like a traditional HVAC duct for air conditioning; despite the higher temperature, the technology is simple.” Pedretti continued, “we are able to use air, which requires a large pipe, because our structure is large enough and receiver does not create any shadow on the primary mirror.”

“The collector cost is much less compared to steel or aluminum frame and current glass or aluminum mirror. Our mirror foil is 0.5€/per square meter compared to 20€ per square meter or more for glass mirror. No special materials are used; concrete can be manufactured everywhere” said Pedretti.

The industrial use of CSP is on the rise in the greater middle east, as the age of oil draws to a close. One particular area of interest is the use of CSP in enhanced oil recovery. 

Richard Greenan

Written By admin 
July 24, 2013 10:08 am
Posted In ENERGY, Solar

Report – IABSE Bridge Competition Guidelines Conference

IABSE world infrastructure news

To mark the release of “Guidelines for Design Competitions for Bridges”, the IABSE held a workshop at The Institution of Structural Engineers offices in London to discuss the need, purpose and creation of this publication. The IABSE President, David Nethercot, chaired the event, which consisted of presentations from structural engineers Brian Duguid (Mott Macdonald) and Naeem Hussain (Arup), and architects Cezary Bednarski (Studio Bednarski) and Martin Knight (Knight Architects).

The first presentation, given by Brian Duguid, outlined the unease felt by those that enter bridge design competitions regarding how the competitions are run, and the driving force behind bridge competition practice universalisation. Brian analysed 40 of the most recent bridge design competitions in an attempt to determine what factors made the competitions successful or not. Of the 40 projects, the 16 projects that failed – in so much as they did not result in the construction of a bridge – often fell victim to a lack of money or political will for the bridges to be built.

Mr Duguid went on to set out five factors which were crucial to conducting an effective design competition: that the competition had adequate design parameters, clearly set out contest rules, a consideration of the costs from the outset, an emphasis on the quality rather than quantity of entrants, and a guarantee of judges highly experienced within the field of bridge design. Mr Duguid, who assisted with the creation of this publication, hoped that it would help clients to learn from the successes and failures of previous competitions as well as demonstrate to them the value of holding a competition of this nature.

Reflecting on his own considerable experience in the field of bridge design, Cezary Bednarski discussed the shortcomings of the current bridge design competition system. In the 20 years Cezary has been designing bridges he has entered 20 competitions, winning 10 of them. However, of those 10 successful designs, only three were actually built. Cezary argued that the small conversion rate from competition winning designs to constructed bridges is in part a demonstration of the need for more bridge design competition guidelines. In particular there were many instances whereby a client had run a design competition without having already secured the proper funding required, very often resulting in not only a failure to build the bridge itself but also a failure to reward the winning design.

Mr Bednarski also addressed the need to examine the criteria by which a winning design is chosen. In competitions of this nature, especially those with many entrants, the winning design is often not the most structurally sound or cost effective, but the most flamboyant. Cezary went on to state that the focus of bridge design has moved away from functional effectiveness towards something “closer to fashion design, we have to astound the world several times a year… and the competitions are the refinement of this process.”

Martin Knight of bridge specialists Knight Architecture stressed the need for bridge design competitions to celebrate bridges that have a sense of place in their location. Focusing on the New Wear Crossing in Sunderland, he stated that the starting point for this design was a “brief that echoed that of the Gateshead bridge,” but that it was scrutinised by the trade press because of an unforeseen shift in the UK’s economic and cultural climate. This example has rather cruelly demonstrated the necessity for clarity when it comes to briefing throughout the competition’s lifecycle. Martin also stressed the necessity of preserving a bridge’s legacy, and the pride and value it can bring to the community in which it is embedded.

Naeem Hussain of Arup gave the final presentation. Naeem, focusing more heavily on the publication itself, explained that it had been created to help clients not only to run a design competition but also to decide whether they need to run one at all. Mr Hussain set out the circumstances whereby a bridge design competition may be an unnecessary expense for a client, and that when constructing smaller bridges a well-selected design team may be better suited. Mr Hussain emphasised the need to choose the best possible judging panel and one with considerable bridge engineering experience when setting up a design competition.

Describing the publication as not particularly controversial or specific, Mr Hussain suggested it was intended for clients inclined to “choose a bridge on a pretty picture that could not stand up” to the test of time, rather than those experienced in bridge-building. He went on to state, in a sentiment reflecting Martin Knight’s presentation on the economic climate, “if we are going to spend public money on a bridge, lets spend it wisely.”

Alexander Malden

Gas Drilling Causes Rise in Damaging Dutch Earthquakes


An earth tremor in the Dutch village of Garrelsweer last week was the latest in a string of mini-quakes to strike the Groningen area. The tremor, which racked up 3.0 on the Richter scale, was caused by onshore gas drilling. To the anger of locals, this drilling activity has caused a sharp increase in the number of quakes over the past two years – with damage caused to houses and the local property market.

There are fears that Groningen, which rests on the largest natural gas field in Europe, could see a major disaster if the gas extraction continues. Though quakes have been reported in the area for almost half a century, there is now on average one quake a week as opposed to the 0.4 per week reported in 2011, and they are gaining in intensity.

The group responsible for the extraction operations – comprising the Dutch Government and the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) consortium, which includes Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell – has admitted that deep drilling into shale rocks in the Groningen area is the cause of the quakes. The region, consisting of porous Rotliegend sandstone, has up to 1,800 natural faults in its subsurface.

Tuesday’s quake alerted subsidence sensors positioned on Lauwersmeer Dijk, a sea defence 25 miles away. Dutch sea defence company StabiAlert claimed the quake had the same effect on the dyke as a lorry loaded with 70 tons of rock driving over the embankment, raising flood fears.

Speaking to the BBC last month, NAM spokesman Chiel Seinen was forced to concede that the drilling operations are putting locals’ lives are at risk: “You can never exclude anything. If people are in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

A reported 60 per cent of the 60,000 property owners in the Groningen region have reported quake damage to their homes, with some properties rendered unsaleable. However, if the cashflow generated by the gas field was cut, Holland would face bankruptcy. The state made £12b from the gas field last year alone.

Richard Greenan

(Image courtesy of BBC)

Written By admin 
July 18, 2013 09:09 am
Posted In ENERGY

Pictures of Progress for AECOM and Arup’s Second Avenue Subway

NYC subway 1

After several false starts, New York’s long-mooted Second Avenue Subway is making real progress with engineers AECOM and Arup at the helm. New images have revealed the staggering scale of the $4.5b project, which will ultimately stretch the entire length of Manhattan.

The underground network, which will include 8.5 miles of track and 16 new stations, is the first new subway in New York for almost 80 years. Covering Manhattan’s East Side, the project will be completed in four stages over the next seven years.

NYC subway 2

The AECOM and Arup joint venture will make use of tunnel boring machines (TBM), mining and cut-and-cover excavation methods to create the twin track network, which will sit amid and beneath one of the world’s most congested urban infrastructures. It is hoped the Second Avenue Subway will relieve overcrowding and delays, while making transit much more accessible for those residing on the island’s East Side.

The initial project phase – two miles of track from 96th Street to the existing 63rd Street line connection, with stations at 86th, 72nd and 96th Streets – is scheduled for completion in December 2016. Photos of the ongoing work are courtesy of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York’s staff photographer, Patrick Cashin.

NYC subway 3

Richard Greenan

Written By admin 
July 18, 2013 09:00 am
Posted In Metro, TRANSPORT

Infrastructure as a Healing Force


Can infrastructure stitch the wounds in our social fabric?

It’s a given that sound infrastructure forms the basis of civilization as we know it – just ask the Romans or the Victorians. It transports people and goods, it provides schools, hospitals, sanitation, communications and energy. However, our question is this: can infrastructure go further than the physical to play a role in healing the big human dilemmas such as poverty, unemployment, and social or political unrest? Can it create hope in desperate situations?

A plan for the Palestinians

Currently on hold, but nevertheless aiming to do just that is visionary project, The Arc. The project has been spearheaded by RAND, a non-partisan, non-profit research institution, in conjunction with Suisman Urban Design in California and comprises a sweeping infrastructure plan for a prospective Palestinian state. Following the curved mountain ridge of the West Bank, The Arc would establish a national corridor that would provide swift rail, roadway, water, power, and parkland for the main Palestinian towns and cities. The corridor – and its lateral branches within each city – would enable the new state to accommodate a fast-growing population by expanding urban neighborhoods and housing stock in a coherent and sustainable manner. RAND has estimated that building the core elements of The Arc would cost about $8 billion and would generate up to 160,000 jobs per year over five years in sectors like engineering and construction.

We asked Doug Suisman, Principal of Suisman Urban Design what initial reactions from both Palestinians and Israelis were when the plans for the project were first mooted back in 2005? “The initial Palestinian response was very positive, and after briefing the Palestinian Authority’s Planning Ministry, we subsequently briefed the Palestinian Authority Cabinet, the Prime Minister, and ultimately President Abbas. Over the subsequent five years, the Palestinian Authority remained very interested and kept in close contact. During that time we held dozens of meetings with hundreds of Palestinians in all sectors: business, NGOs, universities, local government.

gail Quote_5“The Israeli reaction was also surprisingly positive, with the expected amount of skepticism about whether the Palestinians were interested and capable of executing such a plan. We briefed high level government officials, including the Ministry of Defense, and Israelis across the political spectrum, in government, business, higher education, and civil society.”

As Suisman explains, things were progressing well until unforeseen circumstances meant the project had to be put on hold. “In 2010, we signed an agreement with the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Transportation to develop a master plan based on The Arc concept and principles. In February 2011, the French government hosted a conference on The Arc at the Foreign Ministry in Paris, convening French and Palestinian government and business representatives to help move The Arc forward. We were working out the details when the Arab Spring began a few months later. The work slowly ground to a halt because of the instability, uncertainty, and changing political balance in the region.”

During Suisman’s involvement on The Arc, the project hit a brick wall on at least five occasions due to political circumstances, only to be revived again when conditions changed. When asked if this stalling has dampened will on both sides to see the project succeed, Suisman replies, “This has been the longest hiatus so far, but the idea seems to have staying power, so I wouldn’t rule out another revival. Despite the absolutely overwhelming degree of frustration, skepticism, and pessimism on both sides, average Israelis and Palestinians still cling to the hope, however slim, that a resolution to the conflict can be found, and that they and their families can lead normal lives. The Arc vision gives them hope that this is still possible – that’s the comment we’ve heard again and again: this gives us hope.”

In answer to the big question about infrastructure in general being a healing force, Suisman has this to say, “I don’t think infrastructure itself heals. Rather it is the willingness of antagonists to focus on infrastructure that has the potential to divert energy from destruction and the past towards construction and the future. That willingness is there, but you need a plausible and attractive vision showing the benefits which well planned and well designed infrastructure can provide. Such a vision can – and I emphasize can – have the power to bring people together, especially those who are weary of conflict.”

Connecting communities in Jerusalem

Staying with the Middle East, let’s take a look at another infrastructure project that did go ahead and has now been operational for nearly two years. The Jerusalem Light Railway (JLR) links the Jewish and Arab areas of the city and took 10 years to complete amid various controversies. These centred on the disruption to retailers along the route during the protracted construction period, cries of “$100 million white elephant”, litigation claiming the JLR was illegal (dismissed), and people’s historic mistrust of each other.

We spoke to Nadav Meroz, General Manager of the Jerusalem Transportation Masterplan, the planning organisation behind the JLR, asking him about reported calls for segregation. He dismisses these, saying, “That was just people having a bit of a joke, it was never serious. It was about the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community having one car for the boys and one for the girls, but segregation like that won’t ever happen.”

It’s clear that to Meroz, the JLR isn’t about politics. He continues, “The JLR was born out of urgent transportation needs. Our three main communities here – Jewish, Muslim and Christian – all need to wake up in the morning and be able get to work or about their business. The light rail also connects three big hospitals and three branches of the Hebrew University. The Arab community to the north of the city is now also using the JLR to get to the mosques in the Old City much more conveniently and quickly. It’s an incredibly busy service with about 130,000 boardings every day – much higher than was expected.”

gail Quote_6Meroz tells us that in the 1990s the city centre of Jerusalem was in decline. Government offices were moved outside the city, shopping centres and malls were being built outside the city too so people were not coming into the centre. Buses were the only form of public transportation so, along with the cars, everything was noisy, congested and polluted. He continues, “What we are seeing now is a yearly rise of about 11% in pedestrians in the city centre, and far fewer cars with 2/3 of parking now eliminated. We now have many more international tourists too and there are coffee houses, pubs and new buildings springing up everywhere. There is much less pollution and from being one of the dirtiest areas of Israel, it is now the cleanest. You can hear birdsong and see butterflies in the streets.”

This all sounds very positive, but has the JLR brought people together? Says Meroz, “People from all communities and the tourists use the JLR – it is nicknamed the Train of Peace here! The JLR puts everyone side by side and when you’re sitting next to someone you might end up speaking or asking questions of each other which leads to good urban integration. The light rail connects with many of the hotels so the passenger information system – both at the stops and in the cars – is available in English as well as Arabic and Hebrew.”

And what of the shopkeepers who struggled to stay afloat during construction of the JLR? Will they now reap the rewards of being along the JLR route? Says Meroz, “Some of the architects involved in the project are French, and they have brought their sense of style to the street settings of the light rail. All along the line, including the Arab areas to the north, you won’t find an empty shop and the value of assets has gone up. From an urban point of view, the JLR has been very positive for the city as a whole. We aimed to revive the city centre through transportation – much as the French and Germans did in the 50s and 60s – and that has already happened much faster than expected.”

A streetcar named Woodward

Moving on from political and religious issues, the next featured project is attempting to address high unemployment and the resulting social deprivation – not helped by a limited and unreliable public transport system. It’s location? The former home of the American automobile and the birthplace of Tamla Motown: Detroit.

Sadly, in recent decades the once iconic city has fallen well and truly foul of the great American Dream. Its most recent claim to fame is that of the 25 US neighbourhoods in which you are most likely to become the victim of violent crime, the top three are there. Clearly something needs to be done and the new Woodward Streetcar project aims to bring people together, create new jobs, and bring $500 million to $1 billion worth of economic development along its 3.3 mile corridor. Ironically, the route will run along Woodward Avenue, the first tarmac road ever constructed…leading from the former Ford car plant.

M1-Rail, the not-for-profit private-public partnership managing the design, construction and future operation of the Woodward Streetcar has already raised over $100 million from philanthropic foundations and leading regional corporations and institutions. An additional $25 million has recently been pledged by US Department of Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood. This has been a welcome development and M1-Rail now reports “we are on track to break ground summer 2013”.

gail Quote_7Heather Carmona, M1-Rail’s Chief Adminsitration Officer tells us, “The M-1 RAIL streetcar project offers the opportunity for a better transit future for the people of Detroit and Michigan. It will be an economic driver for continued investment along Woodward Avenue, generating new jobs and more economic development for the corridor. An unprecedented public-private partnership, the streetcar project is expected to bring more than $500 million worth of economic development that benefits a variety of stakeholders, including the citizens of Detroit who will be better connected, and businesses and institutions along the route, which includes educational, cultural and medical facilities.” These include the Detroit Public Library, Wayne State University, and Henry Ford Hospital.

As with any new project like this there are critics. Some say the streetcar is a waste of money and will only benefit the middle classes, others say it should go further out into the suburbs. Carmona responds by saying, “The streetcar line can be viewed a centrepiece for what many hope someday will be a seamless transit system that connects people throughout the region to jobs, thriving businesses, retail, cultural activity, but most importantly, one another.”

It’s certainly a much-needed start and time will tell if the Woodward Streetcar can indeed deliver the prosperity and jobs it aims to – let’s hope so.

Can love build a bridge?

Of course in some circumstances infrastructure is of visceral importance – the difference between life and death. Its relationship with poverty is a vast subject in itself and one we can but touch on here. The Global Poverty Project’s report ‘Infrastructure and Poverty’ is a good source of information. It tells us that “around the world more than 1 billion people lack access to roads”. It goes on to explain that “lack of adequate infrastructure perpetuates poverty…because it denies possibilities. Hunger, one of the most obvious symptoms of poverty, is often less the result of a lack of food than a distance from food”. The report also quotes a villager from Mozambique who worries that cholera appears in the rainy season when the river is too swollen for boats to cross it. The Global Poverty Project’s response to this is pragmatic: “The answer to treating cholera in this case is not medicine or doctors, it’s a bridge.”

However, it would be naive to claim that infrastructure alone can cure all society’s ills. Its success or failure is ultimately down to people. It takes a will to design and build constructively and sensitively in areas where need is greatest. It takes people to embrace bold new projects and maximise on the opportunities they can offer, setting aside old hostilities. If you like, infrastructure can act as a conduit for the best – or worst – of human nature.

In Derry, Northern Ireland, in a strikingly symbolic gesture last April, Catholic and Protestant religious leaders joined the Dalai Lama on the new Peace Bridge – a footbridge across the River Royle linking two communities who had once been at war – to spread a message of peace. It does make you hope that, just perhaps, through the creation of inspirational new infrastructure projects and a common will to make things better, we might, just might be able to give peace and prosperity at least a bit of a chance…

Gail Taylor

Written By admin 
July 17, 2013 13:30 pm

Base London Report – Is Big Data a Big Deal?

Big_Data_panel base london world infrastructure news

We’ve all heard the press hype, but how exactly will the rise of ‘Big Data’ impact and benefit our cities’ infrastructures? This was the question at the heart of last week’s panel discussion hosted by World Infrastructure News at Base London.

Chaired by Brian Kilkelly of World Cities Network, the panel included HOK vice president Barry Hughes, Scott Cain of future cities and the Technology Strategy Board, IBM data expert Ed Bryan and Parsons Brinckerhoff’s head of sustainability Lynne Ceeney.

First of all, the panel questioned, is Big Data even that new? The Domesday Book was, after all, compiled in 1086. Also, as Ed Bryan pointed out, sensors and data were being used by governments as early as the 1940s. Perhaps the fundamental recent shift has been the vast increase in speed at which data can be received and distributed.

Another key transition to take place has been the movement of data from the ‘back office’ into the mainstream. As individuals we are now all ‘wired in’ to infrastructure as part of a smart city ecosystem, tracked from cellphone tower to cellphone tower as we contribute data willingly or unwillingly to services like Google maps, traffic jam calculators and so on.

Fighting the case for big data’s useful application in architecture, Barry Hughes pointed to our new-found ability to use data in the modelling of buildings before they are built, thus maximising energy efficiency and sustainability. The next step, Hughes said, is to plug these efficient models into a city model of robust data.

As Ed Bryan agreed, this application of analytical insight can help solve our cities’ problems, through transition to multi-faceted operational constructs, smarter visual analytics, vertical solutions in water management, transportation, city planning operations and emergency management.

In what was perhaps the key message of this discussion, Scott Cain pondered that, if there is value and utility in big data, how does this lead us to behave differently? As Scott put it, “You can release as much data and understand the flows and patterns within a city as much as you like, but at some point you’re going to have to get the diggers out.”

With a more sceptical approach to big data, Lynne Ceeney concurred that, while the indication of infrastructural problems through data is all very well, data itself is not the answer. Big data is perhaps overhyped. We need physical resources to fix infrastructural problems, together with infrastructural systems that offer resilience and flexibility.

While big data is useful in realtime, every smart system needs a single aim, and the multi-faceted, fractured nature of large cities – which contain so many ‘players’ – makes marshalling this data a huge task in itself. There is also the challenge of the ‘big brother’ syndrome where public buy-in is not achieved and there is a move to resist sharing.

Something our panel seemed to agree on was that the gap between Big Data’s rhetoric and the reality of smarter cities on the ground needs to be closed. As Barry Hughes observed, “data is agnostic” – it doesn’t help you make more stuff. You can only open up the hard shoulder once, or tinker with speed limits so many times to try and deal with congestion in a 100 year old road network.

Perhaps the big challenges for city data are how to deal with the legacy of data-less infrastructure and how to ensure that our experience of big data is a positive one.

Richard Greenan

Written By admin 
July 17, 2013 13:25 pm

Consultations Begin on Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon


Formal consultations have started on the world’s first purpose built tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay, with public exhibitions to take place at 18 locations throughout the Swansea Bay area, from the 4th of July to the 5th of August.

The landscape and project planning is in the hands of LDA Design, which has included the development of a sophisticated virtual programme of the lagoon, showing it in the context of Swansea Bay. This programme was joint developed by LDA with iCreate. The marine engineers for the project will be Atkins.

Propositions for the tidal lagoon state a power capacity of 240 MW, with a 400GWh net annual output generation – approximately enough energy to power 121,000 homes. Additionaly, the £650m development will provide art, education, mariculture, visitor and sports facilities. Walkers, runners and cyclists will also be able to enjoy use of the seawall, although this will be restricted in dark hours and dangerous weather conditions.

The project’s Head of Planning, Alex Herbert, states: “Working with our partners LDA Design and Atkins, iCreate has developed this fantastic addition to our formal consultation tools. The lagoon is shown to scale, along with our latest concepts for supporting development including a visitor and boating centre. This tool will help people to experience and understand the lagoon proposals as accurately as possible, so their feedback can help us to develop a truly world-class facility. All feedback from consultation will be taken into account as we move towards making a planning application later this year. The concepts are exciting but we hope the reality will be even more inspiring.”

Richard Greenan

Written By admin 
July 10, 2013 08:43 am
Posted In ENERGY, Tidal

Plug Pulled on RWE’s Tilbury Biomass Plant

tilbury biomass world infrastructure news

German power firm RWE have announced the project to convert their Tilbury B power plant to a biomass only station will be scrapped. The scheme, which was to be fuelled by a mass importation of wood pellets from Georgia, USA, and other European sources, would have made Tilbury the world’s largest biomass generating site.

Tilbury’s conversion from coal to biomass began in May 2011, with hopes the finished plant could generate up to 750MW burning wood and other organic matter including waste oil. RWE have cited technical difficulties in the conversion process, as well as a lack of funding for the project. With the project being mothballed, it is estimated 220 jobs will be lost.

RWE Generation’s chief technical officer, Roger Miesen, stated: “It is with regret that we are announcing the decision to halt the Tilbury biomass project. This decision has not been taken lightly. Tilbury remains a good site for future power generation. RWE still believes that biomass has a role to play in future power generation and will continue to progress options at strategic sites.”

There is still hope for Tilbury, however, as RWE are open to offers for the site, and are not dismantling the project. A resuscitation of the Tilbury biomass scheme would be welcomed by the government, who support biomass burning as a carbon-saving alternative to fossil fuels such as coal and gas.

Richard Greenan

Written By admin 
July 09, 2013 09:09 am
Posted In Biomass, ENERGY

Solucar Complex on Course to Hit 300MW


The massive Solucar Complex in the Spanish Andalusian countryside is Europe’s largest solar complex. While currently operating at a capacity of 180MW, it is forecasted that the group of plants will reach a combined capacity of 300MW before 2014 – enough to power the nearby city of Seville. The Complex consists of two Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, PS10 and PS20, together with the Solnova Solar Power Station, which uses parabolic troughs to concentrate solar rays.

PS10 was the world’s first commercial CSP plant. Using an array of moveable mirrors called heliostats, the plant focuses a large area of sunlight onto a small area atop a solar power tower. This concentrated solar energy is used to store heat in tanks of pressurised water, which is used to generate electricity. PS10 went online in mid-2007, making it the first power plant of its kind in the world

The 624 heliostats were produced by Spanish firm Abengoa, an offshoot of Solucar. Utilising a curved, reflective surface area of 120 sq m, each heliostat concentrates solar radiation on the receiver of PS10’s iconic 40-storey tower, generating temperatures of up to 1,000°c. Contained within a cavity designed to minimise radiation and convection loss, this thermal energy produces 40 bar 250°c saturated steam which in turn drives turbines.

The tower was designed by Alternativas Actuales de Construcción (ALTAC), a Spanish engineering firm specialising in the construction of industrial chimneys and tall concrete structures. Standing at 115 metres, the concrete tower has an opening which begins at an elevation of 100m and extends 15.3m in height and 14.1m in width – enabling the rays of sunlight clear passage to the receiver. This opening between the two shafts also serves to reduce wind load on the tower. Engineered by another Spanish firm,Tecnical-Tecnicas Reunidas, the solar receiver weighs a total of 240.5 metric tons. To bear this heavy load, a steel structure is located 0.2m below the tower’s composite platform.
The entire plant took four years to build.

A larger version of PS10, PS20 operates at double the capacity (20MW). Producing the lion’s share of the output, the Solnova Power Station consists of three separate CSP units, operating at 50MW each. Three more plants – the AZ20 (20MW), Solnova 2 (50MW) and Solnova 5 (50MW) – are scheduled for completion before the end of the year.

Richard Greenan

Written By admin 
July 05, 2013 15:26 pm
Posted In ENERGY, Solar

Siemens wins £1.6b contract for 1,140 new carriages

siemens thameslink infrastructure news

The £1.6b contract for 1,140 new carriages on the UK’s north-south cross-London Thameslink rail route has been awarded to a consortium led by German company Siemens. The Siemens consortium was chosen over Derby’s Bombardier.

Siemens claim the project will generate as many as 2,000 British jobs throughout the supply chain. With the first train projected to run the Thameslink route in 2016, the development has been described as “a boost for UK Plc” by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Managing Director of UK Siemens Rail Systems, Steve Scrimshaw, stated:

“The introduction of the new Desiro City will offer a much improved passenger travel experience and a step-change in capacity and reliability. It’s a technologically advanced train that has been designed with UK travellers in mind.”

Richard Greenan